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The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power

the duel by tariq aliPakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world. It is the only Islamic state to have nuclear weapons. Its border with Afghanistan extends over one thousand miles and is the likely hideout of Osama bin Laden. It has been under military dictatorship for thirty-three of its fifty year existence. Yet it is the linchpin in the United States’ war on terror, receiving over $10 billion of American aid since 2001 and purchasing more than $5 billion of U.S. weaponry in 2006 alone. These days, relations between the two countries are never less than tense. Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf reported that U.S. deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage threatened to “bomb Pakistan back to the Stone Age” if it did not commit fully to the alliance in the wake of 9/11. Presidential hopeful Barack Obama said he would have no hesitation in bombing Al Qaeda inside the country, “with or without” approval of the Pakistani government. Recent surveys show that more than 70 percent of Pakistanis fear the United States as a military threat to their country.

The Bush administration spent much of 2007 promoting a “dream ticket” of Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto to run Pakistan together. That strategy, with Bhutto assassinated and the general’s party winning less than 15 percent of the contested seats in the 2008 election is now in tatters.

With increasingly bold attacks by Taliban supporters in the border regions threatening to split the Pakistan army, with the only political alternatives — Nawaz Sharif and Benazir’s widower Asif Ali Zardari — being as corrupt as the regime they seek to replace, and with a newly radicalized movement of lawyers testing its strength as championsof the rule of law, the chances of sustained stability in Pakistan look slim.

The scion of a famous Punjabi political family, with extraordinary contacts inside the country and internationally, Tariq Ali has long been acknowledged as a leading commentator on Pakistan. In these pages he combines deep understanding of the country’s history with extensive firsthand research and unsparing political judgment to weigh the prospects of those contending for power today. The labyrinthine path between a secure world and global conflagration runs right through Pakistan. No one is better placed to trace its contours.

Condoleezza rice

condoleezza riceFrom one of the world’s most admired women, this is former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s compelling story of eight years serving at the highest levels of government.  In her position as America’s chief diplomat, Rice traveled almost continuously around the globe, seeking common ground among sometimes bitter enemies, forging agreement on divisive issues, and compiling a remarkable record of achievement.

A native of Birmingham, Alabama who overcame the racism of the Civil Rights era to become a brilliant academic and expert on foreign affairs, Rice distinguished herself as an advisor to George W. Bush during the 2000 presidential campaign.  Once Bush was elected, she served as his chief adviser on national-security issues – a job whose duties included harmonizing the relationship between the Secretaries of State and Defense.  It was a role that deepened her bond with the President and ultimately made her one of his closest confidantes.

With the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Rice found herself at the center of the Administration’s intense efforts to keep America safe.  Here, Rice describes the events of that harrowing day – and the tumultuous days after.  No day was ever the same.  Additionally, Rice also reveals new details of the debates that led to the war in Afghanistan and then Iraq.

The eyes of the nation were once again focused on Rice in 2004 when she appeared before the 9-11 Commission to answer tough questions regarding the country’s preparedness for – and immediate response to – the 9-11 attacks.  Her responses, it was generally conceded, would shape the nation’s perception of the Administration’s competence during the crisis.  Rice conveys just how pressure-filled that appearance was and her surprised gratitude when, in succeeding days, she was broadly saluted for her grace and forthrightness.

From that point forward, Rice was aggressively sought after by the media and regarded by some as the Administration’s most effective champion.

In 2005 Rice was entrusted with even more responsibility when she was charged with helping to shape and carry forward the President’s foreign policy as Secretary of State.  As such, she proved herself a deft crafter of tactics and negotiation aimed to contain or reduce the threat posed by America’s enemies.  Here, she reveals the behind-the-scenes maneuvers that kept the world’s relationships with Iran, North Korea and Libya from collapsing into chaos.  She also talks about her role as a crisis manager, showing that at any hour — and at a moment’s notice — she was willing to bring all parties to the bargaining table anywhere in the world.

No Higher Honor takes the reader into secret negotiating rooms where the fates of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and Lebanon often hung in the balance, and it draws back the curtain on how frighteningly close all-out war loomed in clashes involving Pakistan-India and Russia-Georgia, and in East Africa.

Surprisingly candid in her appraisals of various Administration colleagues and the hundreds of foreign leaders with whom she dealt, Rice also offers here keen insight into how history actually proceeds.  In No Higher Honor, she delivers a master class in statecraft  — but always in a way that reveals her essential warmth and humility, and her deep reverence for the ideals on which America was founded.